One of the great pleasures of going back home for me is the opportunity I get to witness first-hand the politics many of us so closely follow and care about as it relates to our beloved country.
This last time I visited home was no exception as I had the opportunity to accompany Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga in his tour of Nyandarua.
I greatly appreciated the PM inviting yours truly to ride in his car with him as we embarked on the tour, providing the opportunity to freely exchange and understand even more this enigma of a man and someone few have any doubt will be reelected as our next president.
Our first stop was rather unexpected to me as we were chatting and the next thing I noticed is the motorcade stopping and we are surrounded by a large crowd the PM stepped up to address through the open sun-roof.
I wasn’t quite sure whether to jump out of the vehicle as everyone else had or stay put but I opted for the latter, with a lesson learned.
The address was brief as the PM introduced Hon. Bishop Margaret Wanjiru who gave a lengthier speech 100% in Kikuyu and this was by design and the same thing will be repeated ahead, except other speakers would join her in doing the same, including Maina Njenga (more about him later).
We next stopped at Ol Kalou township where Raila was made a Kikuyu elder by being adorned with Kikuyu regalia, complete with a flywhisk to signify he is now a Kikuyu elder.
Speaking during the function, the PM reiterated his call for unity in the country and the need for Kenyans to steer clear of tribal animosity both during the campaign and the actual elections.
The PM particularly urged Kenyans as he had done before to reject being lured into voting along tribal lines.
Aware that there have been some elements in the region who have been quietly and shamelessly trying to plant the lie that a Luo cannot be trusted with the presidency, Raila touted his nationalistic credentials and particularly his lack of tribalism by noting, “I supported President Kibaki in 2002 knowing very well that he was a Kikuyu and you should not look at me as a Luo,” a fact whose variation he would repeat at several other stops he addressed other crowds awaiting him throughout the tour.
Mr. Odinga noted it goes without saying as the record speaks for itself that he is a nationalist and a reformer who has fought for the rights of all Kenyans irrespective of tribe, adding that no amount of propaganda will change that or distract him from that course.
The PM then recounted the long journey that led to the enactment of a new Constitution in 2010 and reminded the audience there were those who attempted to derail passage and promulgation of the new Constitution by attempting to raise false alarms and claims such as one that people’s land would be seized if a new Constitution were adopted.
The PM said now that the Constitution has been adopted, what remains is having it fully implemented—something he said he is committed to doing as president, if given the opportunity.
Raila said the Constitution removes many of the impediments that have prevented us from progressing but now all Kenyans should play a role in the important task of transforming the country, adding Kenyans will start realizing the fruits of the new law after the General Election
The PM then invited a number of local politicians who had accompanied him to speak, including former Mungiki leader and now reformed Christian Maina Njenga, who challenged the youth to vote in a reform-minded person as the country’s next president.
Maina Njenga said all youth across the country are in dire need of jobs and reforms, noting Raila has proved he is committed to helping them realize these objectives.
Those others accompanying the PM, included Cabinet ministers Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, Musa Sirma, Henry Kosgey, Assistant Minister Margaret Wanjiru among other ODM leaders.
Consistent with his emerging theme this campaign season of making sure our heroes are not forgotten, the PM visited Mama Mukami, the widow of Mau Mau freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi at her home.
The PM noted it’s proper to remember the freedom fighters because they are the ones who liberated the country from the colonialists and much of the freedom we enjoy today could not have been possible but for their efforts.
For this reason, the PM argued, it would be improper to ignore these heroes in the manner we have and thus the reason he has stepped up efforts to ensure these heroes are not forgotten.
“It’s important to look back at Kenya’s history as it provided the way forward for the direction in which its future was headed to,” Odinga said.
Addressing a sizeable gathering at Kimathi’s home in Njambini, Raila announced that the remains Dedan Kimathi will be exhumed from Kamiti maximum prison so as to accord him a decent burial as an honor to him and his efforts.
Raila directed the Ministry of Heritage to convert Kimathi’s colonial style house at Njambini into a museum where his military equipment that he used in the liberation war and other artifacts would be on display as one way of immortalizing the legendary Dedan Kimathi.
Continuing with this theme of highlighting our heroes and not forgetting them, the PM visited the home of the late JM Kariuki, who was assassinated in 1975 for speaking out against the excesses of the Kanu regime.
The PM laid a wreath on the grave of this Kenyan hero becoming the first high-ranking Government official to do so much to the great appreciation of JM Kariuki’s family who were all present for the occasion.
Speaking to a large gathering at JM Kariuki’s compound before taking a break for lunch, the PM reiterated his commitment to the unity of all Kenyans, saying he had no intention of discriminating against any Kenyan community if he ascended to the country’s leadership.
“What wrong has the Kikuyu community done to me to warrant the much talked about and feared revenge?” he posed.
The PM repeated his same message he has been pounding that he is a nationalist and a reformer who has been fighting for the rights of all Kenyans irrespective of tribe or race and no amount of propaganda will change that or distract him from that course.
After leaving JM Kariuki’s home, the PM proceeded to Ol-Kalou District Hospital, which he announced an official name change of the hospital to JM Kariuki Memorial Hospital.
The PM said the Government will renovate the hospital to match the status it has acquired after it was elevated to a district hospital and now bearing the name of one of our country’s heroes.
On the cases of post-election violence going on at International Criminal Court, Raila denied the now stale lies that he has been pushing for the trials at The Hague based court.
The PM reiterated that he did not take anyone to the Hague and neither did he initiate the Hague trials, adding that he has nothing to do with the ICC nor does he have any influence as to what happens there.
“Just like the court found Orange Democratic Movement Chairman Henry Kosgei not guilty, those facing the trials would be let free if found innocent,” said Raila with Mr. Kosgey nodding in agreement next to him.
The PM then wound up his daylong tour of Nyandarua and headed back to Nairobi in preparation for the next day’s tour of Laikipia.
I was very happy to have been a part of this trip specifically because I fully agree with the PM we must find ways to honor these fallen heroes.
Although Dedan Kimathi was someone I simply read about in the history books, JM Kariuki was assassinated at a time I had actually come of age and could remember vividly the day the news about his death spread across the country as though it was yesterday.
Those days, all breaking news primarily came via the radio—and that’s assuming the powers that be wanted the public to be informed of the news.
I don’t recall what was said on the radio except I recall a sense of sadness and near sorrow in my late Mzee’s eyes as we heard the news over the radio and I would later learn about JM and his unusual path to his fate.
That the PM has seen it fit to honor these two heroes, among others, of course, is commendable and all of us as Kenyans must set aside partisanship and other lesser noble notions about what we believe in and equally commend the PM and do whatever we can to support him in this effort to honor our heroes and heroines.
This blog is dedicated to these heroes.
On another day, I’ll provide an analysis on how I think the PM is doing in making inroads in the former Central province, based on my own observations having been with the PM on his visits to the region on a number of occasions, including this most recent one.
Let’s just say the progress the PM and ODM are making in the region is on track to deliver sufficient votes in the region to have even his virulent enemies quietly start practicing saying the majestic words I have been advising everyone to practice and that is, His Excellency President Raila Amolo Odinga.